A Travellerspoint blog

Our last morning – and the sun shines again!

Paris day three

Saint Sulpice

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Place Saint Sulpice, early morning

Monday (my birthday!), and the Café de la Mairie opened earlier so after packing and leaving our bags at the hotel we had breakfast there while watching the comings and goings in the Place Saint Sulpice. The fountain in the centre of the square is known as the Fountain of the Four Bishops (Fontaine des Quatre Evêques), and was built between 1844 and 1848. A bishop looks out from each of the niches on its for sides, each sculpted by a different artist, but for me it is the lions that are the stars!

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Fontaine des Quatre Evêques

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The fountain's lions

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Saint Sulpice

Saint Sulpice is the second largest church in Paris, after Notre Dame. It was built in the mid seventeenth century, replacing an earlier Romanesque church on this site, and added to in the eighteenth century. From outside you can clearly see the mismatched towers – the result of a rebuilding project in the 1770s that was interrupted by the French Revolution and never finished.

I found the interior rather sombre and heavy but with some interesting sights. The pulpit is famous as the spot from which a leading figure in the Paris Commune, Louise Michel, spoke. But we managed to miss another important sight, a gnomon (according to Wikipedia, ‘a device designed to cast a shadow on the ground in order to determine the position of the sun in the sky’) in the form of an obelisk and meridian line, constructed here in the 1720s.

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Pulpit, and detail

We did however find these paintings by Delacroix in the Chapel of the Holy Angels (on the right as you enter). These depict ‘Jacob Wrestling with the Angel’ and ‘Heliodorus Driven from the Temple’.

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Murals by Delacroix

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Stained glass in Saint Sulpice

La Butte-aux-Cailles

Leaving the church, we took the Metro to Corvisart to explore the area of the 13th arrondissement known as the Butte-aux-Cailles. My VT friend Don had written about the street art here in a blog entry (see https://operasandcycling.com/butte-aux-cailles/) and it looked the sort of place we would enjoy, as a change from the city’s major sights. And so it proved. We had a lovely stroll on some of the picturesque streets here - Rue des Cinqs Diamants, Rue de la Butte aux Cailles, Rue de l’Esperance.

There was lots of colourful and/or interesting street art, much of it by the same artist, Miss.Tic. If you look at the photos in Don’s blog, taken in 2013, you will see that many are different from mine, reflecting the ephemeral nature of street art, but Miss.Tic seems to be a constant here. She is a local artist, born in Montmartre, and her work has even been used in a set of postage stamps, issued in 2011 to mark International Women’s Day. You can see more of her work, all very much in the same stencilled style, on her website: Miss.Tic in Paris. Most have a political or feminist or other slogan, in French naturally. Some (but not all) I was able to understand:

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Graffiti by Miss.Tic

J’ai du vague à l’homme’ is a pun on the French phrase ‘J’ai du vague à l’âme’ – literally ‘I have some vagueness or emptiness in my soul’ but used to denote sadness, ‘I have the blues’, we would say. Presumably the girl in the image is feeling down because of a man.

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Graffiti by Miss.Tic

L’abus de plaisir est excellent pour la santé’ I believe would translate as ‘An excess of pleasure is good for the health’.

Avec l’amour le temps passe vite … avec le temps il passe moins souvent’ – ‘With love, time passes quickly … with time, it [presumably love] happens less often’ (the French verb ‘passer’ can mean ‘to pass’ or ‘to happen’, as well as a number of other things!)

The accordion player, whose face has unfortunately been defaced, is the work of another well-known French graffiti artist, Jef Aerosol (real name Jean-François Perroy). I am not sure if the intact one is also by him but it seems possible, although the style is a little different:

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Accordion

Zaira is a Swiss graffiti artist who uses bright colours in her paintings and stencils, often featuring flowers, birds or butterflies:

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Blowing a kiss

Zabou is another female street artist and is French but based in London:

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Garage door

Mosko et associés (real names Gérard Laux and Michel Allemand) specialise in animals and the giraffe is a recurring theme in their work. This was one of my favourite shots of the morning:

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Speedy Graphito, real name Olivier Rizzo, has been creating street art in Paris since the early 1980s and is one of the best known French graffiti artists, influenced by pop culture and Disney. This is another of my favourite shots - I like to include passersby in my photos of street art, to give them context. There's another of Miss.Tic's works below. The slogan reads: 'Mieux que rien c'est assez' - 'Better than nothing is not enough':

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Speedy Graphito and Miss.Tic

ALO (Aristide Loria) is an Italian artist based in Paris and London with a very distinctive style, using bright colours and geometric shapes. On his website it says: ‘ALO tailors striped clothes around his elegant female figures which have the same void eyes à la Demoiselles d’Avignon, but they are also full of life and emotions: sweetness, love, desperation, anger, madness, elegance and dignity. Beautiful stylised women; lost characters in the city corners, looking for life. ALO spots his subjects in the streets, he metamorphoses them and eventually brings them back to the streets in the form of works of art.’

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By Alo

I have not been able to track down any information about the other artists whose work we saw, but here are some of my favourites:

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On the Rue des Cinqs Diamants

From Don I learned that the quarter is named for a Pierre Caille who bought the hill in 1543 to grow grapes for wine-making. The vines are long since gone but this remains a peaceful and in places picturesque corner of the city in which to wander, with attractive architectural features on some of the buildings and side streets that suggest an earlier époque.

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Typical house

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Side streets

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The church of Sainte Anne de la Butte-aux-Cailles

Here and there we spotted cute little knitted plant holders, each with a tiny succulent growing inside. Someone had obviously been busy on their own personal project to further brighten up the neighbourhood - or maybe it was a collective community effort?

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Knitted plant holder on a lamppost

A birthday lunch

We took a break for a coffee in a local bar, and marvelled at the much lower prices here than in the centre of town, with our two coffees costing less than one in a tourist area. But with a train to catch we couldn’t linger too long, so late morning we took the train back to Saint Sulpice to have an early lunch in the Café de la Mairie where I had previously spotted cheese omelette on the menu - one of my favourite lunchtime choices when in Paris and just what I wanted for my birthday lunch! Chris had a Croque Madame and we toasted my birthday with a glass each of Bordeaux, before rounding off the meal with a slice each of tarte tatin - another of my favourites.

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In the streets near Saint Sulpice

Time to go home

After this it was time to collect our bags from the hotel and take the Metro to the Gard du Nord to catch our Eurostar train home. This was 30 minutes late in leaving (waiting for missing emergency equipment, according to the announcement), but made up some of that to arrive only 20 minutes behind schedule. Compared to the outward journey though, it was a much less relaxing trip, as we hadn't done the upgrade to Premium (it was more costly for this return route) and had a particularly noisy family seated near us. Nevertheless it was still a hassle-free way to travel, as always with Eurostar, and we were quite soon home, reflecting on a brief but fun weekend, and resolving not to leave it another twelve years before returning to Paris.

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Somewhere in northern France

Posted by ToonSarah 03:23 Archived in France Tagged art trains streets architecture paris fountain church city street_art street_photography

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Comments

Fine photos of the Butte-aux-Cailles! And thanks for including the link to my blog entry.

by Nemorino

Love the composition and colors in "Somewhere in northern France."

We stayed out in that area the very first time we visited Paris. The hotel is still there but has a different name.

Next time you are there, you stayed so close to our favorite restaurant, you must try it. It's very reasonable for central Paris and the food is really good. It's more Mediterranean than Parisian and perhaps that's why we love it. La Bastide d'Opio at 9 rue Guisarde. It's a great place for lunch or dinner.

FOr breakfast, we used to love Paul's at the corner of rue de Seine and rue de Buci but it's gotten way too touristy so I won't recommend it any more.

by Beausoleil

Thank you both :) Don, that was the least I could do, as we would never have gone there had I not read your blog!!

Sally, I'll definitely check in with you for restaurant recommendations next time :) We did go to one restaurant in the rue Guisarde in fact, but not that one (it was L'Enfance du Lard, a mixed experience). We steered clear of Paul's though, as we have them all over London - didn't seem Parisian enough!

As for the photo from the train, pure serendipity! I was reading but with my camera on the table next to me, looked up, spotted the church, grabbed the camera and took one photo in a hurry before it was out of sight - this was the result :)

by ToonSarah

You shouldn't really entitle this 'our last morning'- as it's literally down the road from you. I am so envious of how quickly you can get the Paris, and indeed anywhere in Europe, from London. I can't even get to the tiny (unknown*) country town of Gundagai in the same time.

  • Unknown that is until it shot to international fame after the Rambling Wombat wrote about a small bronze dog and a 'marble masterpiece' located there!

That said I went on the most beautiful walk yesterday in the Australian bush -it was wow, wow all the way (and I am used to these walks and views) and a far cry from anything in Europe so I am not complaining :-)

A great entry here, particularly the section on the street art and La Butte-aux-Cailles more generally.

by Wabat

Yes, only the last morning for now Albert, as we can happily go back - it's actually a shorter train journey than to Newcastle :)

I owe the La Butte-aux-Cailles section completely to Don, as we would never have known about it had he not blogged about it!

by ToonSarah

Lots of new and different street art since I was last up on the Butte-aux-Cailles.
On my last visit to Paris (a few weeks ago) I finally went into the Saint Suplice church to take pictures of those Delacroix murals. The Louvre is preparing a big Delecroix exhibition for later this spring.

by Nemorino

Thanks Don. Yes, I imagine the street art changes all the time, so it would be worth revisiting this area. And I'll look out for you blogging about the Delacroix exhibition in due course ;)

by ToonSarah

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